Cable & Wireless plc was a British telecommunications company. In the mid-1980s, it became the first company in the UK to offer an alternative telephone service to British Telecom (via subsidiary Mercury Communications). The company later offered cable TV to its customers, but it sold its cable assets to NTL in 2000. It remained a significant player in the UK telecoms market and in certain overseas markets, especially in the former British colonies of the Caribbean, where it was formerly the monopoly incumbent. It was also the main supplier of communication in the British South Atlantic, including Saint Helena and the Falkland Islands. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.
Cable & Wireless sought to reduce its headcount by 2,700 in the UK by the end of June 2001, thereby releasing for disposal a portfolio of surplus offices at a time when property values were at their highest across Central London. The portfolio included its UK headquarters at 26 Red Lion Square, WC1 and its global headquarters at 124 Theobald’s Road, WC1.
Nick McCalmont-Woods managed and implemented the successful disposal of nine office buildings in central London totalling in excess of 300,000 sq ft, providing in the process the following services to Cable & Wireless:
- the inspection of all relevant properties and supporting lease documents
- preparation of initial high-level reports outlining the likelihood and cost of disposal
- production of bespoke marketing reports for each individual property setting out recommendations as to the best method of disposal, route to market and likely timetable to exit
- marketing strategy including indicative action plan, budget and methodology
- generation of DCFs to support the business case for disposal in each instance
The completed disposals resulted in a more efficient use of office space within Cable & Wireless’s property portfolio and allowed for the acquisition of a new office for the Group executive in Paddington:
1. The disposal of 42,000 sq ft in 26 Red Lion Square to The Economist Group helped release funds for the business at a time when they were most needed. Shortly thereafter, Cable & Wireless vacated 124 Theobald’s Road and on Nick McCalmont-Woods’ advice the company embarked on a significant upgrade of its surplus accommodation with a view to seeking a single occupier for the whole building. Five months after completion of the upgrade works, Nick McCalmont-Woods let the entire 84,500 sq ft building to MediaCom, a subsidiary of WPP, the world’s largest communications services group.
2. The acquisition of 18,000 sq ft in The Point, Paddington Basin, W2 to house the Group executive heralded a move away from Cable & Wireless’s historic Holborn location and provided the template for a new policy directive requiring any new premises acquired be held on shorter-term 5-year leases to support the re-engineering of the business.